Watershed Stewards Receive Lawn Signs To Promote Lake-Friendly Ways

BEMUS POINT – Residents that are taking initiative to protect the watershed were acknowledged by the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy on Friday afternoon.

The program, entitled “Watershed Steward,” is a way for the CWC to say thank you to those residents who are taking positive steps toward reducing the amount of sediment and nutrients that enter the lake through the watershed.

“All of these folks have done something at their homes that is lake friendly,” said Jane Conroe, CWC conservationist. “The Watershed Conservancy, over the years, has said that care of the watershed is care of the lake.”

According to Conroe, some of the things that the Watershed Stewards are doing to limit sedimentation and nutrients from entering the lake are: maintaining and updating septic tanks, planting native species, properly disposing of pet waste, undertaking projects to prevent erosion, allowing lawns to grow higher than 3-4 inches, using permeable pavement, limiting use of weed killers, leaf mulching and composting, using rain barrels, using phosphate free dishwasher detergent, limiting use of garbage disposals, using phosphate free fertilizers and limiting the use of lawn fertilizers.

“We’re on our third year of really pushing these practices,” said Conroe. “Anyone within the watershed can utilize these practices, as well. They don’t need to live on the lake. … The lake is big, and it’s easy to think that each individual is too small to make a difference. That’s one of the reasons we’re awarding stewards with their own sign. If neighbors of these stewards see that others around them are doing their part, they’re more likely to pitch in as well. If it catches on one way, it could really turn into a wildfire of positive activity.”

“As you know, what happens to our lake depends on what goes on in the watershed,” said John Jablonski, CWC executive director. “It’s up to the landowners in the watershed to take care of their piece of the watershed. We’re very grateful to everyone who has elected to participate in this program.”

Although not everyone was in attendance at the event, the CWC handed out signs to 20 Watershed Stewards, including the Chautauqua Institution, which made an effort to limit the amount of sediment which enters the lake by implementing no-mow zones and rain gardens around several buildings on the campus.

The CWC is continually looking for residents who would like to be Watershed Stewards themselves. Residents may inquire about the Watershed Steward program by calling the CWC at 483-3524, by email at info@chautauquawatershed.org, or by visiting www.chautauquawatershed.org.